The Beast Side: Living and Dying While Black in America – D Watkins
Get ready to be deeply offended. No matter how genuine you may be about achieving racial equality and equal opportunity, you’ll feel the heat from the burning rage of David Watkins and you won’t like much of what he has to say.
His perspective is heavily jaundiced and his anger unremitting, understandably so given almost routine cop killings of black people in the most questionable circumstances.
But sadly, he undermines the best justification of the rightness of his views, with emotional rants over more sober rationality.
Take this outburst against a cop jailed for the killing of a young black man. “Hopefully, he’ll get butt- and face-fucked every night until he passes out from his own screams. I hope his anus contusions get stitched every day and re-ripped every night. I hope he wakes up in an ocean of his own blood…”
And so it goes on: Hardly Martin Luther King, and not helpful in efforts to bridge the divide between police and public, the privileged and the poor, black people and white people.
The chapter headed Fuck the National Anthem, is another case in point, though at least his rationale for this provocation is better explained.
Watkins’ invective is at times so extreme it seems almost designed to alienate the very people needed to rally to the cause; the rants show the depth of his frustration but won’t bring about the change he seeks.
Here’s an example: “A racist cop quickly arrived on the scene and helped himself to a young black target. He probably salivated at the notion of killing a black kid, probably dreaming about the awards, medals and Zimmerman love he’d receive as he aimed and squeezed”.
Not all cops are racists, not all cops are targeting black people, not all cops are out of control, not all cops are killers and to suggest they are immeasurably weakens the cause he espouses.
It’s a pity his ire is so absolute because he does have plenty to say and he needs to be listened to. For sure, he is saying what many people think and his aim is to “spark a national dialogue for change, challenging our elected officials and inspiring others to look deeper and to fight the underlying, systemic ills responsible for our pain”.
I reckon we’d all agree with that, I just question how it might be achieved. Inflammatory language only adds fuel to the flames and right now the fire risk is high.